Afshin Kaivan-Mehr

Afshin Kaivan-Mehr is one of nine candidates vying for three spots on the Bonita Unified School District Governing Board. Photo: Rommel Alcantara

What inspired you to run for School Board?
What inspired me is the devotion and the passion that I have for the community. I have a lot of ties in this community. My kids are still very young; they are in elementary and middle school. They are my inspiration to actually run for this position. It’s not just about my kids, it’s also all about the community. Just in general, my education and professional background have been a unique journey. It has allowed me to learn and gain more experience in different places and settings. I have pretty much lived in four different countries, been through three different educational systems, so, that’s where I am.  

What experience do you have that would make you a good board member?
I have been involved in many diverse community organizations and impactful community events. I have also served on several governor boards and organizations as well on the local and state level. I am a member of the La Verne Chamber of Commerce, but I am a former Board of La Verne Chamber of Commerce. I have been an executive board member and safety [director] for our region in AYSO since 2018. I have been a former executive board director and treasurer of the state for the California Chiropractic Association. I have served on the state level for two years, and as a board executive for the last election 2017-2018. I served as a board director and president of a local chapter of our association in San Gabriel. I have been a committee chair for a health and wellness expo in La Verne. Actually I am the one who put it together through the Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the City of La Verne in 2014-2015. These are some of my qualifications. I have been a parent, and also my job treating [those] in the community, as far as students, kids, teachers, and staff.

What do you think we can do to keep our students safe and savvy in a more digital and technological environment?
I am a health advocate and safety director, so no matter where I go, safety is number one. The problem that we have is online safety right now. It’s a big problem. We can have [the devices and internet], but the safety of the kids at this point doing the distant learning is going to be online safety. Protecting the students’ information and data alone is really important. Teaching the kids to be cyber savvy [is important]. There are so many notifications and pop ups, they can just press the wrong button. Unfortunately, at this point social media apps and cyberbullying have been a problem and will be more of an issue with this crisis that is going on. 

What milestones would need to be reached in order for you to be comfortable with schools reopening and staying open?
Schools can reopen safely in person with lower [infection] rates. Health, safety and the well being of students, teachers, and staff is the most important consideration in determining the schools reopening.

What other top issues do you care about?
I am going to go back to the three philosophies that I have for my campaign: embracing health, empowering kids, and strengthening kids. That is my absolute priority. That has been the reason for where I want to be and where I am going.

What is an interesting fact about yourself that your supporters may not already know?
The most interesting thing about me is being a survivor, turning negatives to positives in every aspect of life, in different stages of life as far as seeing the kids, being an adult, being a parent.  Going through a lot of battles, up and down, and never [giving] up. Always stay positive because that is the only drive that you have, and I think that is what we need as a nation right now. I think that I can bring in more of my experience of what could go wrong and how you can come up with solutions and make it better.

My unique experiences and professional background, that’s something that could be a difference as far as what’s been on the board. Being a health advocate, being a doctor, being a parent, being on a good platform to be able to make the hard decisions and not be scared to make difficult or hard decisions. Also, the involvements that I have had serving on different boards: this is nothing new to me, this is just another chapter to my journey. I’m a server. Everyone has been concerned about their safety at this point, but you have got to understand that as a doctor, as an essential worker, I have been here everyday serving my community, my patients, for only one reason; to keep things going. To bring hope. I have never stopped working. If I can do it, if I am risking my life, my family’s life, everybody else can do it. [We] all need to put [our] hands together and put the differences aside, and kind of look at the two parts of the half of the glass, and look at the full part, not the empty part. Working together to make this better, not just for us, but for the future of our kids. Because our kids are why we are here, why we are having this discussion. It is not just about the kids, but the teachers and the staff,  and everybody, every individual regardless of any title.

Interviews were edited for clarity.

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